Restaurants of the Road
San Gabriel, California
Norman Chang was once known all over Pasadena as "the chef at Roxxi." Roxxi shut its doors long ago, but fortunately for lovers of good food, Norman and his wife Maggie opened their own eatery in the neighboring town of San Gabriel. The first Pizza Place California wasn't much to look at— a remodeled taco stand whose refrigerator was nearly as large as the dining area.
Size made no difference to the adoring clientele whose cars filled the parking lot to overflowing every evening. Pizza Place California's menu, which included far more than pizza, was well worth the wait for a table.
Today, Pizza Place California has moved to spacious new surroundings. Located right across the street from the San Gabriel Civic Auditorium and just up the road from the historic Mission San Gabriel, Pizza Place California has a lovely indoor dining room and a beautiful outdoor patio that we discovered recently with Ed Czach, a friend who lives nearby.
The food is as wonderful as ever, beginning with the hot garlic rolls that seem to appear by magic the second you sit down. Actually, ours were delivered by our waiter Christopher, who then regaled us with descriptions of the house specialties, which included rack of lamb and osso buco with port wine sauce. We finally opted for a signature pizza, half with lamb sausage and half with pork carnitas. A "medium" was more than enough for three people. We started off with house salads that were deliciously fresh and well- seasoned.
Pizza Place California is just as good as when it was housed in the taco stand, and Christopher assured us it gets just as crowded. "If you want to eat here before a show at the Auditorium, you have to get here early," he said. "We're packed by six-thirty."
It's no surprise. Pizza Place California is a simply marvelous place to eat.
303 S. Mission Drive
San Gabriel, CA 91776